Ever since I was a small girl, I always dreamed of moving to a big city, becoming a journalist, taking part in the cultural life. That’s why I moved to Budapest immediately after taking my high school exams: I only had an unpaid internship under my belt, hadn’t been accepted to university yet, but I knew it was the right decision. My life slowly became the one I daydreamed about in my bed late at night in a small Hungarian town – I made lots of friends, discovered the right places to unwind in after a hard day, had various job opportunities, made it to ELTE. All my former classmates expected me to be among the first few to leave the country. I chose to stay. I wanted to stay.
Confession time: after this election, I don’t want to anymore. But I’m pretty sure I’m still going to.
I don’t really want to slowly watch my hometown fade into poverty; to look at one of the big, hateful posters placed all around the city every day, no matter where I go; to choose between succeeding in this field by writing propaganda or not really making much money, but doing something I can be proud of. And lastly, seeing all my closest friends build lives in other countries. I want none of these; I want to explore Budapest again and again, go to concerts, try out the new shops, bars, restaurants, have a picnic on Margaret Island, walk in Újlipótváros and Palotanegyed (my favourite parts), be happy, take my friend’s border collie-mix on long walks, fall in love, maybe have kid(s).
Or I could marry one of my best friend’s, who also happens to be an American citizen, move to California, purchase a farm and live like vegan hippies for the rest of our lives.
The problem is that every time I walk the streets of the 7th district, I remember every single memory I have made there – the good, the bad and even the unbearably sad. I feel at home in this city and in this country. I think like the 13-year-old me would be really happy seeing me make the best of my life here.
But the 21-year-old me is really, really, really confused.